This spring at the Dickinson College Farm, Kalyn Campbell ’10 is enhancing her knowledge of sustainable farming while also cultivating young minds through the hands-on outdoors curriculum she’s creating.
During a three-month internship funded by a grant from the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education, Campbell is developing a “teaching garden” at the farm in Boiling Springs, Pa., that will bring local K-12 students out to the country to learn about sustainable food production.
“My end goal is to build a garden and a curriculum that remains, so when I’m gone, this teaching program can continue,” Campbell explained. “I would also like to educate other Dickinson students about how to teach an on-site class like this.”
Campbell also interned at the farm this fall to begin developing a farm-based curriculum and worked with local schools to bring children out for visits. This spring she’s expanding the curriculum by either growing or constructing visual teaching instruments at the farm that will more tangibly illustrate for students what sustainable agriculture entails.
Jennifer Halpin, director of the College Farm, has worked closely with Campbell to craft the curriculum. “As an environmental-science major, Kalyn has developed a keen interest in environmental education and sustainable land management through agriculture,” Halpin said. “She has worked at the farm as a student farmer since her sophomore year and has been an invaluable member of our farm team.”
An example of a visual teaching instrument that Campbell has in the works is a pizza garden. In raised beds, she’s growing wheat, soy and a variety of vegetables that will be used as pizza ingredients. “I want the kids to understand that the makings for pizza come from the ground,” she said.
The Bolton, Vt., native also envisions constructinga tool shed from reusable water bottles that will also demonstrate water collection. To help students better understand the local problem of storm-water runoff, Campbell would like to grow a “rain garden” with plants that absorb water and chemicals quickly before they reach nearby streams. A solar-powered water pump and fountain also are on her horizon.
Campbell, who just graduated in February, has connected with a variety of Dickinson faculty and organizations, especially ALLARM (Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring) and facilities management, to make her project a success. She also works part time at Dickinson’s Children’s Center as a substitute teacher.
Earlier this spring, Campbell spent two months learning the cheese-making process at Keswick Creamery in Newburg, Pa. Keswick produces 10 kinds of hard cheeses, including cheddar and Monterey jack, as well as soft varieties such as ricotta, yogurt and pudding. She took part in all production steps including milking and feeding the cows that provide milk for the cheese.
Campbell also learned the process by which cheeses are flipped and brushed, often with beer or hard cider, in the aging room. At a farmer’s market in Washington, D.C., she helped sell the farm’s products. Now that she’s in the midst of her College Farm internship, she only works at Keswick once a week but feels the experience has expanded her knowledge of farming.
Though her father had a garden during her childhood, Campbell’s interest in sustainable agriculture really began the summer after her sophomore year, when she interned with the College Farm. Since then, teaching agriculture has been a career goal. But rather than teaching in a traditional classroom setting, she said, “I’m interested in agricultural education as an alternative teacher or in teaching at an after-school program at a farm.”
Campbell’s internships not only have allowed her to pursue her own interests but have inspired changes at the farm.
“Kalyn’s internship with the farm in the fall and the teaching garden project has prompted the farm to seek ways to continue to develop its educational outreach with youth populations,” Halpin said. As a legacy to Campbell’s service, starting this fall, the farm will hire one student per year to expand her teaching program.
Story by Jordan McCord ’10
Photos by A. Pierce Bounds ’71